Twenty-six people were killed at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday. The shooter, who had a documented history of domestic abuse, should have been legally barred from purchasing firearms, but the Air Force failed to properly enter his criminal record in the background check system. ThinkProgress reports that “Kelley’s case isn’t a one-off. A 2014 paper from the Center for American Progress found that domestic violence records reviewed for background checks in order to purchase a gun are often woefully incomplete… The paper estimated that just three states — Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New Mexico — submit complete domestic violence records for background checks. Additionally, a report Thursday report from The Trace found that the military is reporting almost no domestic abusers to the database.”
Approximately one month after the deadly Las Vegas shooting, Senate Democrats – led by California Senator Dianne Feinstein – introduced a ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and bump stocks.
Maine voters approved the Medicaid expansion this week, overriding the objections of Governor LePage, who has vetoed efforts to expand Medicaid five times since taking office.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore has a history of inappropriate sexual contact with teenage girls. “Leigh Corfman, now 53, told the Post that Moore pursued her as a 14-year-old when he was working as a district attorney; she said he kissed her on one occasion and touched her over her bra and underwear on another. Three other women say Moore, in his early 30s, flirted with and tried to ask them out as teenagers, though they were apparently over 16 at the time, the legal age of consent in Alabama. Moore himself has denied the allegations a ‘completely false and desperate attack.’” Also on Thursday afternoon, the New York Times published a story on sexual misconduct by comedian Louis C.K. The US Senate voted unanimously to require sexual harassment prevention training for all new lawmakers and staff.
Boston University physicians released images of brain damage suffered by former National Football League player Aaron Hernandez, who committed suicide in prison after being accused of killing his friend. Quartz reports that, “As is normal with CTE, which can only be diagnosed post mortem, doctors sliced Hernandez’ brain to examine it for damage. The slides shown at the conference showed significant damage to the front lobe, which moderates behavior and impacts the ability to make decisions. His brain also showed dark spots associated with tau protein and shrunken, withered areas. ‘As some new slides appeared on the projectors, some physicians and conference attendees gasped.’
References to “climate change” continue to vanish from federal government websites, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Departments of Energy, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services, according to Vox.
Public Health Newswire reported on an American Public Health Association session focusing on children’s unique susceptibility to environmental health hazards like contaminated drinking water, lead, and unhealthy air. “Children are still not as protected as they need to be,” noted Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, executive director of the Children’s Environmental Health Network. “This is possibly the first generation to see a shorter life expectancy than their parents due to their poor health status. We need to make sure that children truly are at the center of everything we do.” Another APHA session explored “the feminization of poverty” and the ways that women – especially women of color – are disproportionately harmed by climate change and other natural disasters. “The systems designed to address [natural disasters], continually disadvantage women — again and again — feeding into a cycle of poor health and economic outcomes. Jacqui Patterson, director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, kicked the session off with a look at the many ways women, particularly women of color, are placed at higher risk for worse health outcomes due to climate change and natural disasters (which, we know, are often worsened by climate change). To attack a whole problem, she said, you must start at the roots — and the roots of this problem are in a U.S. economy built on the exploitation of humans and the environment. And so it makes sense that from such a system, women, especially women of color, continue to be disadvantaged…. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. When recovering from a community trauma, women and girls have other stressors to contend with — from juggling prenatal health and care with post-traumatic stress disorder after Hurricane Katrina to girls being told to wear female condoms while walking to get potable water, as their risk for sexual assault on the journey was so high. Riddle noted that rates of domestic violence and sexual assault often spike after a disaster because men dealing with unmet mental health needs take untreated aggression out on women and children. Riddle added that researchers have also documented rises in children’s traumatic brain injuries after disasters due to such violence.”
After several years of delays, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to implement a menu-labeling policy for restaurant and food retail chains. The policy is expected to go into effect in May 2018.